How a Glog Can Build 21st Century Literacy
Literacy Gurus such as Bernajean and Angela advocate that students should be telling new stories instead of writing the same old reports. I’ll consider a unit of study on Nazi German, and a report that may follow numerous learning experiences. Anybody with a library card or internet access can find a vast array of existing information, so why would students care to regurgitate what is already there? Instead of creating a report, students could be telling survivor stories of the Holocaust. The same factual information can be presented in both formats, but with the new story readers gain perspective. The history becomes more meaningful.
A few weeks ago I was working with some teachers to develop student learning activities using Glogster. I was anticipating questions the teachers may have so went searching for some sample glogs, and came across two that make a powerful point. The first poster I found was a very simple report on eating disorders. Click through to it and you will see that the report uses proper written English and necessary vocabulary to share the information with the audience. The background is simple (and I thought rather happy), and no images are provided.
The second poster covers the same topic, but is drastically different. It uses powerful images and a first person narrative to tell the story of a girl who suffers from an eating disorder. From the images one can interpret the pain felt, the thought process, the obsessive daily rituals and skewed self image. From the text you can understand the types of interactions and relationships that may play a role in the development of such a disorder. Its not the perfect example of a flawless assignment but the contrast between the two posters is important
The first poster is well written with accurate facts, but its existence seems pointless. I can find the same information, and probably with detailed references, in many other places online. The only purpose to make this poster is so the teacher can read it and mark it. A much more authentic assignment for students is to create a poster, a form of communication, that someone else will actually want to read and will take the time to read. The second poster offers such an experience. I shared these two posters with teachers before they began development of their own student activities.
(prepare yourself for a cheesy movie quote here)
I am reminded of a line from the movie Good Will Hunting. Robin Williams’ character says to his patient “I can’t learn anything from you I can’t learn from a book unless you want to talk about you”. Don’t get me wrong, students need to learn to write reports. Many people write reports as a part of our work. But none of us prepare reports for clients or superiors based off of well known and easily accessible facts. We report on something relatively unknown or unique.
If you are going to have students post on any social media site such as glogster, consider this idea of new story vs old report. After all, Glogsters slogan is Poster Yourself, not poster something you found on wikipedia.
Please comment below, and share the types of 21st century literacy activities your students are doing in their class. I’d love to hear how you are using glogster, or any other social media site.